Meet Renée Roman! She’s an incredible architect from Board & Vellum, an accomplished architectural, interior design, and landscape firm in Seattle, Washington. Renée and her brothers are first generation Americans. (Fun fact: her first language was actually Lithuanian!) Growing up, Renée felt that architecture was a perfect blend of her parents’ two passions: art and science. So, in a way, she was destined to be an architect from the get-go. After high school she pursued an undergraduate degree in Environmental Design at the University of Colorado in Boulder. This degree allowed her to learn about a multitude of genres within the design spectrum such as, landscaping, architecture, and planning. During her master’s program at the University of Washington, she was also lucky enough to study abroad in Italy (“an open-air museum”) where she learned about different subjects such as, humanity, science, and fine arts. She felt that the environmental design degree allowed her to look at “design through a bigger lens.” She feels that both experiences have helped her tremendously later in her career as an architect.
Architecture is a male-dominated field, which led to a unique experience for Renée both during and after college. She explained, “There were times I was the only female architectural intern or architect. One time there was an impenetrable glass ceiling, but I concentrated on the work and learning as much as I could. I like working with people, always try to figure out how to enjoy the process.” However, Renée did not want the atypical architecture career: “When I wanted to more clearly see the direct impact of my work, I pursued a slightly different direction by working at a small firm with more unique project types. Some architects are specialists in one building type, but that was not what interested me. I became a ‘generalist’ architect and this small firm was a perfect fit.”
The diverse projects that Renée has been a part of are something that she absolutely loves about her job. She also mentioned how, “Architecture is a lifelong learning type of profession.” She says, “It’s never stagnant and you’re always learning. Each design project is unique, whether it’s the site, project type, scale, client, contractor, craftspeople, regulatory agency, building materials, or aesthetic, It’s very rewarding to have an impact on so many levels and create something people will enjoy and work with my clients to further their visions.” Renée continued on about how her favorite projects to work on are those where the clients enjoy the process because “it’s the client’s building, not mine, so I want it to be their favorite place.” She always makes sure she fully understands the vision of the client, as well as an intense understanding of the site she is working with before starting a project.
Renée has truly has enjoyed her time at Board & Vellum because of the collaborative and eclectic atmosphere. She mentioned that although she is one of the more experienced architects, she is constantly learning new things every day. Renée did not take a traditional path to becoming an architect, but her windy road to where she is today has been extremely beneficial. She has enjoyed her career because of the diversity and forever changing projects and environments it offers. Her advice to all of us is to: “Find your passion, enjoy the learning process along the way, and work at it!”
Contributor: Ally Massimi